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  • Writer's pictureDarby Summers

What to Look For in an Editor (And Where to Find One)

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

You’ve decided to self-publish your book, and you know it’s time to hire an editor. But how do find the right one for you? When you take the traditional publishing route, an editor comes with the package and serves a lot of different roles throughout the editing and publishing processes. But when hiring an editor for a self-published work, they’ll fill a slightly different role. What should you look for in an editor to know they’re a good choice for your book? Here are a few tips to help you find out.

1. They have a portfolio or links to prior work

This is the first thing you should look for when you find an editor, because you can discover a lot about them from their prior work. If you have previous projects to look at, then you have an easy reference for the rest of the items on this list.

2. You can’t see any mistakes in their own work

Whether it’s on their website, LinkedIn, professional social media accounts, or in their portfolio, if you’re seeing mistakes in their work, then it’s likely they'll miss mistakes in yours! (Note: personal social media accounts are another story—not even editors can be "on" 100% of the time, so cut us some slack!)

3. Experience editing within your genre

Each genre has its own conventions, and it helps to have an editor who is clearly familiar with those conventions, especially if you’re looking for content or developmental editing, where the editor will be helping to craft your work as a whole.

4. Attention to detail

Attention to detail is a must for every editor, especially when you’re looking for proofreading and final edits right before publishing. This is something you can look for in their portfolio or listen for during a first meeting or consultation. Here’s what you’ll want to find out before hiring them:

  • How thorough are they?

  • Are they just going to do one read-through or go through your work several times to make sure they haven’t missed anything?

  • More than having general attention to detail, are they paying attention to the things that are important to you? If you’re writing a faith-based book, will they be double- or triple-checking that the scriptures you referenced are spot-on and cited properly? If you’re writing a mind-bending fiction with a twist ending, are they checking for continuity throughout the story and letting you know when there’s too much or too little foreshadowing?

5. Work style that you can work with

Finding the right editor is as much about looking for someone who fits well with you and your writing style as it is finding someone who knows their stuff. You want someone you’ll feel comfortable with, someone you’ll trust, because they’ll be giving feedback (both positive and negative—but always constructive if they’re good) on a work you’ve spent months and years pouring your heart and effort into.

Not only do you want to feel comfortable around and build trust with your editor, but you also want them to communicate in a way that works for you. The last thing you want while going through edits is not knowing what the person is talking about and then having a bunch of back-and-forth emails or phone calls about what a comment actually means and what changes need to happen.

6. Awareness and comfort around sensitive topics

If your book is faith-centered, you’ll want an editor who is comfortable discussing religious topics and working with scriptures. If your story contains AAVE, you need an editor who won’t dismiss the dialect as “slang” and try to make it “grammatically correct” when it already is. If you’re writing erotic fiction, you’ll want an editor who’s comfortable editing sex scenes, and with whom you’re comfortable talking about them with.

Whatever the case is for your writing, you’ll want someone who will approach any sensitive topic with respect and in a way that sets you at ease.

So... Where Do I Find a Good Editor?

The good news is that with these criteria, there are a lot of places where you can find an editor for your self-published work. This can range from freelancing websites like Upwork and Fiverr to a local editor. Freelancing websites can be great for quickly finding a lot of options, but it can be difficult to verify how good they are. If you are able to see a portfolio of previous work and check some of these boxes, then that’s a plus.

For local editors, you can start with a Google search for “editors near me,” but you’ll need to wade through some ads first. A more personal way to find an editor would be to ask people you know. If you have friends who are authors or if you follow some indie authors on social media, ask about their editing processes and if they’d recommend their editors. Alternatively, you can browse writing-related forums or social media groups and ask around there, or, you can go out to some book events—I got my editing job with Next Page by going to a local Indie Book Festival where Next Page had a table!

And of course, since you’re reading this blog, you’ve already come to a place where you can get a variety of editing services. Check out our editing services and self-publishing packages, take a look at some of our prior work, and get in contact with us to see if we’re a good fit for you and your work!

About Next Page

Next Page Editing & Design produces high-quality books that reflect authors' brands, purpose, and impact. We do this through editing, book design, launch support, author branding, and coaching. ​Once we finish our job, you keep your rights to print, sell, and promote your work while retaining 100% of your book's profits. We call this a "no-strings attached" model.

To request an editing or self-publishing quote, click here.


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